How Rare Could a 1978 Dodge Omni or a 1973 Chrysler Newport Be?

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Jalopnik asks the question, “What Car Is Unexpectedly Hard To Find?“. Recently the Henry Ford Museum reopened its famous Automobile in American Life exhibit after a year’s worth of renovations. The new display is called Driving America and about 40% of the cars now on display were either newly acquired specifically for Driving America or were previously not on public display at the HFM. With about 140 vehicles, it’s not the largest public display of museum worthy cars and trucks, but the historical significance of each vehicle makes Driving America a must-see bucket list item for any car enthusiast. Besides a number of very rare production vehicles like the Bugatti Royale and a Tucker, Driving America includes cars that are actual historical artifacts. There are many one-of-one cars like Henry Ford’s original Quadricycle plus Ford’s 999 racer and Jim Clark’s Indy 500 winning Lotus in the Racing in America section of the exhibit. In addition to Driving America, the museum also displays unique vehicles like its collection of presidential limousines and the bus in which Rosa Parks refused to sit in back. So it might come as a bit of a surprise to hear what Bob Casey, the curator of HFM’s automotive collection told me was the most difficult to find car in the new exhibit… a 1978 Dodge Omni.

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It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, though, since the late 1970s, christened the “Malaise Era” by our own Murilee Martin, was an era marked by abysmal quality control. Mopars from that era in particular had rust issues. Remember, too, that Driving America needed vehicles that were not just historically significant models but also that the specific cars themselves were museum quality. It’s probably easier to find a museum quality vintage Bugatti than it is to find a near pristine 1978 Dodge Omni. Maybe also easier than finding a museum quality 1973 Chrysler Newport as well, since Casey said that the green example of Chryslers “fuselage” design era was not an easy find either.

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